West Sussex County Council names new leader as Paul Marshall

Louise Goldsmith
Image caption Louise Goldsmith said she resigned to allow a new leader to prepare for elections

A council has named a new leader after the predecessor resigned following suggestions it should lose control of its children's services department.

Paul Marshall won a poll of the ruling Conservative group of councillors and will be the next leader of West Sussex County Council.

Louise Goldsmith stepped down earlier this month after a critical review of children's services was leaked.

The report said Mr Marshall was a "major asset" in improving the service.

He had been named as the lead member of children's services earlier this year after Ofsted found "widespread and serious weaknesses".

After finding the council was unable to guarantee the safety of all the children in its care, Ofsted ordered a review of the children's services department, carried out by Children's Commissioner John Coughlan.

A summary of a draft report of his findings, seen by BBC Sussex, said the authority appeared to have "hero-to-zero" culture, where those who angered senior leaders were ostracised.

It claimed bullying allegations - which had not been proven - had a "significant ring of truth" about them.

Mrs Goldsmith said she resigned to allow a new leader to prepare for the next election.

She said the children's services department was a "very long way off from being good enough" and apologised.

"This service has had a long history going, back to 2000, of deep-rooted issues which despite various interventions, we have never been able to put on a course of long-term sustainable improvement," she added.

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